MESSENGER takes image of Mercury's surface

NASA has released an image taken by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging, or MESSENGER, spacecraft that offers a look at Mercury's surface that had not previously been seen.

No longer just a messenger to the gods, Mercury is sharing information with us now, thanks to the MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) mission. On March 29, 2011, NASA shared the first-ever image from Mercury orbit.

Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

MESSENGER, which launched on August 3, 2004, was built to enter Mercury orbit and capture imagery, telemetry, and analysis of the planet's makeup. The MESSENGER spacecraft has had a long and arduous journey, as it performed a slingshot maneuver around Earth, breezed past Venus, and then spent the last three years or so (including six planetary flybys) slowly tightening its orbit around Mercury to enter a safe enough orbit for its intended mission.

For more information, take a look at the official NASA MESSENGER mission page and Nicole Bremer Nash's TechRepublic image gallery, MESSENGER mission to collect new data about Mercury.